Fuel and energy prices are back in the news, and as so often it is their perceived expense that is taxing the tabloid press. The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are up in arms about it, telling “FIGHT FOR CHEAPER FUEL MPs demand dramatic drop in petrol prices and urge oil giants to pass on price drop of 4p a litre to customers … The Chancellor was urged to intervene as new figures revealed wholesale prices have tumbled in the past two weeks”. A Conservative Government intervening?
That’s what the Sun wants, and to make sure they get the message, a suitably ranting editorial froths “With the fuel giants refusing to stop ripping Britain off, the Government must use force … It is scandalous that the petrol prices which have crept up this year are still being kept high even though the wholesale cost has been falling for a fortnight”.
Philip Hammond “must also finally take the Big Six energy firms in hand too. The Government has been warning them since the summer about fleecing loyal customers, stuck on high and complex tariffs … They’re not listening … It is time they were forced to put ALL customers on the sort of low rates currently enjoyed only by those clued-up enough to switch suppliers. That’s just the start”. What a difference three years makes.
Back in 2013, when Mil The Younger proposed a freeze in energy prices - the same kind of intervention that the Sun is now urging, not just in that market but also that for motor vehicle fuel - the Sun was playing the other side of the field. In September of that year, it told “UNDER-fire Ed Miliband made a bold lurch to the Left yesterday to try to win
back millions of voters who had already written him off”.
Meaning what? “Top of his list of targets were fat cat energy firms … He pledged to pass an emergency law as soon as he is elected in 2015 to FREEZE all energy bills for 20 months … Forcing the firms to give workers a better deal will help cure the cost of living crisis, was Mr Miliband’s dramatic claim”. And this was A Very Bad Thing.
Hence we saw follow-ups like “Ed’s power failure … Labour's fuel pledge is under fire as £2bn is wiped off power firms” and later “Labour adviser slams Ed’s energy price freeze policy … ED Miliband was left red-faced after a Labour adviser launched a bitter attack
on his flagship energy price freeze policy”. John Armitt “warned that economies ‘do a darn sight worse’ whenever Governments try to intervene directly in the marketplace”.
So now the Sun wants Government to, er, intervene directly in the marketplace - and use force if necessary. Quite apart from the inconvenient fact that the Murdoch goons don’t understand how wholesalers and retailers buy the stuff - they will have agreed a contract to supply at a set price, and so cannot pass on any fall as they are not benefiting from it - the paper is clearly wanting their demand backed up by the security forces.
That means taking us a little further down the road to a fascist state. It may appeal to Creepy Uncle Rupe and the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, but most people will find the prospect frightening. But desperate people do desperate things.